FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

2019 Awards Update

Oct 19, 2018 Written by Cindy Stong & Allen Bancroft, Co-Chief Judge Advisors.




We have been hard at work making improvements and have some news about the FIRST Robotics Competition Awards that we are excited to share! Here are some highlights:

Gracious Professionalism Award:

Many of you are aware that at events, each team would receive a form where they could nominate another team for the Gracious Professionalism (GP) Award. We found that these forms were not the best way to obtain the information we wanted. So, for the 2019 season, we will not be using the GP forms and instead will be focusing on more training for the Judges to help them decide the winners for this award without the form. Be sure to share your team GP stories with visiting judges.

Team Spotlight:

One thing we had given teams the option to do was submit some information about the team that Judges could then review before the event. This was on the Lead Coach/Mentor 1 and 2’s Dashboard and was called the Team Spotlight. It wasn’t a mandatory form, and we found that only some teams would fill out these sections. Since we were not getting information from all teams, it was not as useful as we had hoped. We also felt that these questions are usually answered from the pit interviews, so we have decided to remove this form from the Dashboard. You will notice the link is still on the Dashboard, but the portal is closed and is not accepting any additions. We wanted to let teams know that they shouldn’t worry about filling this out.

Chairman’s Award

While working on updating the awards, we noticed that the Chairman’s Award was missing some information (things like the character counts for the executive summary, etc.) and was not laid out on the website in the easiest manner. We went through and reorganized it to present the information in a more efficient manner and made sure to add any additional information that would be helpful to teams submitting. You will also notice some wording updates to stress the importance of FIRST. Be sure you check out the updates on the website here.

Autonomous Award Sponsored by Ford:

Remember this blog? We announced earlier this year that we had a new award that was to be presented at Championships only. Due to everyone’s excitement and the success of the award, and with Ford's continuing sponsorship, we have decided to expand this award to be available at all regional and district events. Make sure you check out the awards description as it has been slightly updated since we originally released it. You'll also notice that like the Rookie All Star and Rookie Inspiration Awards, this may not be presented at every event. We are looking forward to seeing some incredible Autonomous Actions for the 2019 season!

Entrepreneurship Award:

We have completely revamped the Entrepreneurship Award. Read all the details about the new guidelines and requirements for the award here. You will notice it no longer require teams to submit through an online portal. Instead, to be considered for this award, we are asking teams to prepare a summary business plan to bring to events and give to the judges when they come to the pits. Because Judges will be receiving these at the event, there is a page limit, but teams should also be able to speak to the ideas inside the document. We are hoping that this new method will allow teams to submit in a format that is more useful to them and could be used to recruit potential sponsors. With the removal of the portal, teams are also given more time to finish their business plan and we are hoping this will increase the number of submissions we receive. We cannot wait to see team’s business plans and we hope you are as excited about these changes as we are!


We are super excited for all of these improvements and are confident that these changes will help make for a more consistent team experience.

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I am disappointed the Team Spotlight is getting removed. We used it extensively to highlight possible things judges may be looking for in their pit visits; to organize supporting thoughts for the Chairman's essay, and to show team members that this program is truly more than robots. I hope the Team Spotlight prompts appear in the game manual or another widely-used and appropriate platform. 

Could you provide an update on the "FIRST Ecosystems Project" launched in July?  Was that project connected to the changes to the wording of the CA to "stress the importance of FIRST", or are they independent efforts?  Thanks!

Hi Nate. The Ecosystems project is a long-term activity that will likely last a year or more. We are still in the early stages. We hope to post more of an update soon, but it was not in any way connected to these wording changes

The rules for the Entrepreneurship Award state the business plan can only be 3 pages long with 3 pages of appendices. For all pages are they one-sided or two-sided? Thank you.

Hi Michelle,


Great question! The page limit is meant to mean 3 pages either single sided or 1 ½ if you want to print double sided (to save paper and be green!). This page limit is the same for the summary business plan and the appendices but all should be given in one cohesive document.

We will add this clarification to the award description to make sure everyone is aware.



Regarding the Entrepreneurship Award.... For the page limit---if we add a cover sheet to our Business Plan will that count against our page limit? By coversheet I mean something that just has our team name, logo and "2019 Business Plan". Thanks!

Hi Virginia.

We have no problem with the addition of the cover sheet as long as it is only to identify your team and the purpose of the document like you suggested. We will add a clarification to the awards description online.


Undoubtedly, these ideas have been considered.  Still feel compelled to post.

GP: Increased load on judges to collect data.  Less time for other awards.  More critical to impress upon judges to collect such data.  Data more useful to collect closer to end of event when time is limited.  Increase need for more judges?

CA: Consider font size and other parameters such as margins as seen in professional technical journals formatting? Chicago Manual of Style?  Students will see this going forward into college.

Ford Auton: The autonomous period in a match has characteristics that do not necessarily align with the idea of autonomous as it is used in in popular culture.  I.e.: an excellent dead reckoning routine would have to be weighed against a limited sensor-based effort.

EA: Experience from electronic submissions compel me to suggest guidelines as mentioned in CA.  Font size, margins, limited graphics.  In order to cram more data into the submissions, have encountered spread sheet miniaturized image.  Able to manipulate on an electronic submission, but if it’s provided as a hardcopy (and that small) at a competition, this would be an issue.

For RCA there is clarify for items like no video, not eligible.   What do we do with a 5 page submission given to us?

Hi Rick,

For the Chairman’s Award, this wording is on the page under the Video requirement ‘Teams who do not submit a Video to the judges will not be considered eligible for the Chairman’s Award and will not be interviewed by the judges.’ 

For the Entrepreneurship Award, if the Summary Business Plan is over the page limit, then they will not be eligible to win the award. Please remember that it is 3 pages for the actual Summary Business Plan + 3 pages of appendices and the addition of a cover sheet will not count against the page limit as long as it is used to only identify the team and the purpose of the document.



Regarding the Entrepreneurship Award Commitee,

For the page limit---if we add a table of contents page to our Business Plan will that count against our page limit? By table of contents I mean something that just shows the page number of each content for example Financial Statement on page 1. Thanks!


Adding a table of contents would count against your page limit. With the submission being a Summary Business Plan, there will not be as many pages and a tale of contents is not necessary.


Jamee Luce

Team Advocate, FIRST Robotics Competition

Hello will our summary business plan be eligible if we out faded photos of our team during the season while we are having fun or photos that we took while visiting places like "Bean" in Chicago or NASA tour?


You can add photos to the summary business plan if you choose but it does count against your page limit. So choose what you feel is information the judges need.


Jamee Luce

Team Advocate, FIRST Robotics Competition

Hello!  The character count limit for the WFA on FIRST's website says a max of 3000 characters.  Can you please clarify if this count includes the spaces between words, or if we are just counting the actual characters in the words themselves? Thanks!

Hi Dawn!

The count includes all characters, including spaces, tabs, line breaks, etc.


Jamee Luce

Team Advocate, FIRST Robotics Competition

Hello! I was wondering if we are able to have an appendix cover to separate it from the rest of the business plan, meaning it would just be a blank page that says appendix. So a judge wouldn't be confused why there are more than 3 pages to our business plan. 

Hello Adriana!

A blank page will count against your total page limit. If you are worried the judges won’t be able to tell the business plan apart from the appendices, please put a header on the first page of your appendices.


Jamee Luce

Team Advocate, FIRST Robotics Competition

Hello! The student submitting their WFA essay for our team noticed only 4 photo uploads icons on the submission portal. The WFA guidelines state a max of 6 photos. Can we upload 6 (and how/where would the additional 2 go) or has this max been reduced to 4?  We are well within the max file sizes. Thanks!




Hello Dawn!

Thanks for bringing this to our attention! You are correct that teams can ONLY upload up to FOUR (4) pictures through the submission portal. We will be updating the website!


Jamee Luce

Team Advocate, FIRST Robotics Competition

Hello! For the Chairman's Standardized Definitions and the citing page, is this page used only for the four new definitions given or all aspects of the team as well (collaboration, sponsorships, advocacy, outreach, etc)?




The Chairman's Definitions should be used when submitting your Chairman's application, on any resources you share with Judges, and during the Chairman's Presentation. Keep in mind that this year, we introduced the Documentation Form to help allow Judges to easily see the documentation. You can read the update here: which links directly to the new Chairman's Definitions as well as the documentation form. 


Fiona Hanlon
FRC Program Specialist

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